A week or two ago I gave you my review of the movie, THE DAMNED UNITED, Brian Clough's disasterous stay at Elland Road after Don Revie, who he hated, left to take charge of England, just as disasterously.
Well, a couple of weeks ago I was invited to a book 'event' at Waterstones in Leeds where Rob Bagchi author of 'The Unforgiven', the story of Don Revie's Leeds United, and Duncan Hamilton author of the best selling 'Provided You Don't Kiss Me', and a more recent 'Old Big 'Ead:The Wit and Wisdom of Brian Clough.' answered questions and signed copies of their books.
Both managers were brilliant former players, prolific goalscorers and both from Middlesborough. Clough has intrigued the nation ever since, and although he died in 2004 after he left Forest and had a big alcoholism problem, his legacy lingers on with a new movie and many new books in the works.
Hamilton, who was a kid reporter and stutterer when he first interviewed Clough on his arrival at Nottingham Forest in early 1975, was as close as any journalist ever was to the Forest boss, who went and took a provincial club to two European Cup triumphs in succession, over Malmo FF 1-0 in Munich in 1979 and over HSV Hamburg a season later in Madrid. Both authors believe that not only should Clough not have taken the Leeds job, after resigning from winning 2 championships at Derby County, and a boring move to Brighton on the South Coast, but that when he did, he should have insisted that his former assistant Peter Taylor came with him, and who did leave Brighton to join him successfully at the City Ground.
Don Revie had also changed Leeds United in his 13 year reign, from a forgettable club to one of the most exciting and controversial in Europe. With the help of Paul Trevillion, 'The Beaver',the world famous football artist and guru, he had been persuaded to give the club an image makeover with coordinated pre-match warm ups, names on fancy warm ups, numbered sox ties which they wore, then autographed and threw to the crowd, and a top ten record. The flip side, LEEDS, LEEDS, LEEDS is still sung with passion today as United, the best supported team outside the EPL, try to get promoted to the Championship after two failed attempts in the last two seasons. He even changed the uniforms from the blue and gold to all white, like Real Madrid. Revie died at age 61 in 1989.
Believe it or not, LUFC's web site www.leedsunited.com is the 3rd most viewed in the country after those of Manchester United and Liverpool.
There is a sad anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks. On May 16th 1973 Leeds United lost in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final in Thessolonika, Greece to AC Milan. To this day Leeds United fans claim that the referee was bribed by the Rossineri. After the match referee CHRISTOS MIKLAS was suspended by both the Greek F.A. and by UEFA and never refereed again. I have been to the homes of many FIFA and UEFA referee friends over the years, some of whom have refereed World Cup, UEFA and Olympic Games finals, and they have lots of gifts and souvenirs. It was common practice in those days for Italian and Spanish clubs in particular to entertain visiting match officials, buy them expensive inscribed Rolex watches, give them liberal expenses for clothes, meals and even 'ladies' to influence the result. Of course, most did not change their neutral views during the matches.
Yorkshire and Humber MEP, (European Parliament) Richard Corbett has started an online petition that so far has over 12,000 signatures mostly from Leeds but also from other supporters, even Italian ones. On May 16th 2009 Corbett will hand over the petition to UEFA in Switzerland, where he has already had talks with the authorities, to declare Leeds United the true and worthy champions. www.richardcorbett.org.uk/leedsunitedpetition.htm.
'The Stanley Sting' is the true story about £800.000 being bet on an insignificant Football League Two match last May between Accrington Stanley and Bury, at least 1,000% more than normal. Stanley suprising lost at home to Bury, 2-0 and six Accrington players have been charged by the F.A. after convincing CCTV footage in bookmakers shops showed them betting against their own team. It is an offence to bet on the outcome of a match involving your own club. A red herring of a story, a complete fabrication, was put out to say that the Accrington players were all out drinking the night before, to give credence to the result.
David Mannix, a former youth star with both Liverpool FC and the England youth team was earning a basic wage of £80 a week playing for the club with the worst support of all 92 in the Football League. He allegedly bet £4,000, FIFTY TIMES his basic wage on the outcome. Jay Harris, Robert Williams, Peter Cavanagh 'allegedly' bet £2,000, £1,000 and £5 respectively, while Andrew Morgan a former Stanley played who was on loan to Bury, bet £3,500. They have about 10 days to get legal councel and plead guilty or not guilty.